Life in Lockdown
It was just 6 months ago that I was amidst the mountains of Germany, hopping from this city to that, meeting new people, basking in the sun and feeling the breeze of fresh air across the face at the same time with umbrella stuffed in my bag because you never know when the rain might drench you. That’s the thing about Germany’s weather: uncertain, unpredictable. That’s how life also plays cards of uncertainty, you don’t know what’s next like I didn’t know life that was moving so fast 6 months ago would come to a standstill after 6 months. Locked within the four walls where the lockdown seems like never ending. Hugs and Handshakes are no more the desired gesture for masks and sanitizers have replaced. It has robbed sense of touch and physical boundaries are set. It is indeed challenging for each one of us because we are left with just two choices, either face the challenge or face the virus. Social distancing is the new norm and this is going to be the new ‘normal’ for a while now.
No matter how harsh this time may seem, when loneliness is sure to raise its ugly head and the sense of isolation will be extremely stressful. But on the other hand this ‘House arrest’ has taught us lot of things and showed us another reality that we never saw or were not wanting to see. The pandemic provides an ideal opportunity to reconnect not only with others but also ourselves. This is a time to practice greater self-reflection and evaluate our choices in life and also strengthen relationships within the family at the same time. Pre-lockdown had us all connected with our family virtually and our friends in reality, in person but the tables have turned and the lockdown has made us connect with our friends through virtual means, thereby restoring the communication and friendship and has made living with family a reality. In a world that needs us to distance, we’re finding ways to be more connected than ever. People have discovered their new hobbies, finishing the long due things they always wanted to do, trying their hands on new things. Maybe the hobbies and the urge to engage ourselves constantly with trying something new could be a way to escape from the dark reality and keep it at bay which would otherwise have taken a toll on our mental health as already mentioned above Quarantine can lead to loneliness which could further contribute to poor physical and mental well-being. The stress and anxiety is also creating in some people a fair amount of paranoia. Another way to escape the harsh reality of pandemic is to keep a diary which would allow you to put all your emotions, thoughts, feelings good or bad on the paper and also fill it with mundane tasks to create a sense of importance in your life since surviving the routine has become another challenging thing during the lockdown.
Here, I would like to revisit two literary works ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ also known as the ‘Diary of Anne Frank’ by Anne Frank and ‘Am Beispiel meines Bruders’, a German Novel which in English translates to ‘In my Brother’s shadow’ by Uwe Timm. The first work is an autobiography of a young girl Anne Frank, who expresses her thought in a diary while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. In the diary she shares her experience and the story during her time of depression. The diary has since been published in more than 60 languages. The second work was my primary literature for my M.A. Dissertation. This is also an autobiography more like a memoir of Timm’s brother who died in service of the SS (Schutzstaffel), Hitler’s private army, when Timm was only 3 years old. His brother used to maintain a diary which although was illegal but helped him vent out his emotions he was experiencing at the front which otherwise he couldn’t have shared with anyone else. The diary surprisingly returned to the family as part of his leftover belongings after his death. This also helped his younger brother Uwe Timm to understand his brother’s life at the front which also compelled him to question his actions.
I have joined as a V-Force Volunteer to aid UN spread awareness regarding COVID-19. Till now I have brought the attention to more vulnerable groups like elderly people, persons with disability, gender inequality through social media platforms. Currently I am focusing on the mental health and Psychological responses to COVID-19. The purpose of citing these two literary works here is to highlight the importance of maintaining a diary. The above two mentioned characters used diary as an escape from their harsh realities. To stay in hiding for two years to prevent oneself from Nazis was not easy neither was to be staying at the front away from the families amidst the atrocities and being a part of the same. Both of the scenarios must have taken a psychological impact on the characters, who chose diary to express their odds which might otherwise would have stayed hidden. This could come to our aid at this crucial time since the act of writing is also therapeutic because penning problems on paper is an active practice and has the ability to reduce our anxieties and help us to organize our thoughts and make them apprehensible.
Stay Home, Stay Healthy, we all can endure much more than we think we can.